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How To Pray In Just One Minute

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If you’ve ever been in a synagogue in your life, you know that a typical Jewish prayer service can go on for hours.

But what about the average Jew who wants to find a way to connect with God through prayer, but who is not engaged by the prolonged Hebrew prayers in a standard Jewish prayer book? Is there a way for a Jewish person to pray, to connect with God on a daily basis, a way that does not involve reciting lengthy prayers in a language he or she doesn’t really understand?

Happily, there is.

A friend recently brought a one-minute prayer technique to my attention. It works so well, I wanted to share it with you. It comes from a book called Where Earth and Heaven Kiss by Ozer Bergman.

Here are the basic steps which I have adapted, using my own language.
  1. Stop whatever you’re doing.
  2. Close your eyes and take a deep breath.
  3. Think of two things that happened to you in the past 24 hours and say thank you to God for these things. While it’s important to be grateful for the big things in life, like your health or your family, it’s also important to notice and express gratitude for the daily gifts. When I do this exercise, I pick things I appreciated that day, like the sweet corn that just came into season or the news that a friend is engaged.
  4. Ask God for two things you need in the physical realm. You could ask for big things, like a new house or a complete healing for a loved one. Most days, this could include things as “mundane” as an honest repair person to fix a broken appliance, a way to attend your child’s school performance without upsetting your boss or the ability to find the last ingredient you need to make a special dish. This step is where one can really grow by remembering that all things come from God and, like any loving parent, He wants to hear from us about what we need.
  5. Ask God for two things you need in the spiritual realm. For some, these can be harder to identify. Perhaps you’d like to grow in your desire to study Torah. Maybe you’d like to master reading Hebrew. Maybe you want to find an outlet to express your deeper self. Perhaps you’d like to feel closer to God on a daily basis. Whatever you think would improve the condition of your soul, this is the time to ask.
  6. Ask for two things that will benefit the Jewish people. Maybe you’re aware of a conflict in your Jewish community that urgently needs resolution. Maybe you’re worried about growing anti-Semitism. Maybe you want all Jewish children to have access to affordable Jewish education or Jewish camp. This is the time to turn your vision from your wants and needs to the Jewish people as a whole. Alternately, it could be a time to ask God for something specific for another Jew – a spouse, a job, recovery from a serious illness. The point is to look beyond yourself at this stage.
  7. End your one minute prayer by asking God if you can talk again tomorrow. Close your one minute prayer session by saying thank you to God for the time.
Of course, you can take longer than one minute to complete this prayer exercise. You can take as long as you want. After the first few times, it shouldn’t take longer than just a minute or so.

I like to do this prayer at the end of the day. It gives me a way to review my day and to spend a moment with God before falling asleep. But you can do this kind of prayer anywhere, at any time, no matter who is around or what else is going on around you. You don’t need special clothes, special books, any knowledge of Hebrew or a special building.
There are five separate prayer services on Yom Kippur and it can take 13 or more hours to complete them in some synagogues. That’s one type of Jewish prayer.

This is another.

Yom Kippur is intense, but it’s only one day a year. This one minute prayer offers a way for me to connect to God in a personal way, every day. I really encourage you to give it a try.
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